Dr. James Henderson
Dr. James Henderson became the University of Louisiana System president Jan. 1, 2017.
Since his appointment, he has led the Universities of Louisiana in the creation of a strategic framework that charges its universities to produce the most educated generation in Louisiana’s history, drive growth through public/private partnerships and research, and recruit, retain, and develop world class faculty who educate students, empower employers, and enrich communities. There are various systemic functions that ensure success, one of the newest is Compete LA, a program designed to assist the 653,000 Louisianians with some college credit but no degree.
Previously, Henderson served as president of his alma mater, Northwestern State University, where he reinvigorated student life and campus culture leading to the highest enrollment in the school’s 135-year history. Before taking the helm of NSU, Henderson served as chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College. During his tenure, the institution ranked among the five fastest growing colleges in the nation for five consecutive years.
In 2012, Henderson was named a Northwest Louisiana Business Hall of Fame Laureate and in 2017 he was inducted into Northwestern State University’s hall of honor, the Long Purple Line. His proudest accomplishment to date though is the tiny blue check next to his Twitter handle. On any given day, you can find an insider’s take on higher education in Louisiana sprinkled with candor, wit, and his two golden retrievers.
Henderson holds a master of science in administration from University of West Florida and a doctor of management from University of Maryland—University College. In 2010, he completed the Institute of Educational Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The smartest decision Henderson has made is marrying his college sweetheart, Tonia, a proud Cajun from Gueydan. The Hendersons have three children, Reagan, Nicholas, and Alexander; and three grandchildren, Zachary, Miguel, and Maria.
Shabnam Mogharabi is an entertainment entrepreneur, author, and journalist with more than 15 years of leadership experience in media and storytelling. She is a lifelong student of positive psychology, a freelance documentary film producer, and an expert on how to create socially impactful and entertaining content. With actor Rainn Wilson, Shabnam co-founded SoulPancake, the inspiring entertainment company behind beloved video series such as Kid President and My Last Days. Under her tenure, SoulPancake amassed 10M social media fans and nearly 1B video views on its daily positive videos about human connection.
The company eventually had a successful exit to social impact film studio Participant. It was in espousing the values of SoulPancake that she personally believes in - the importance of joy, hope, purpose, and gratitude - that Shabnam found a calling as a public speaker. Today, she shares her uplifting, vulnerable message on how to harness the power of joy at dozens of conferences and events a year. Prior to SoulPancake, Shabnam was an award-winning journalist and editor and one of the youngest winners of the Jesse H. Neal Aard (the Pulitzer Prize of B2B journalism). She has worked as a contributing writer, editor, and stringer for a number of publications, including People, Pool & Spa News, Sunset, and HuffPost. She is a New York Times bestselling author with SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions. Shabnam is a Henry Crown Fellow and member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She is on the advisory board of Seed & Spark; an industry advisor for USC’s Digital Media program, and on the board of directors for of the national nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center.
Shabnam received her B.A. in journalism and business administration from the University of Southern California and her Master’s in media from Northwestern University. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son.